Top photo: Members of the Northview varsity wrestling team celebrate their third consecutive Western Indiana Conference team championship on Saturday at South Vermillion High School. Competing members on Saturday included: Nick Hensler (103), Josh Longo (112), Beau Pingleton (119), Chris Craft (125), Brian Griffin (130), Zach Stultz (135), Brandon Hathaway (140), Chris Dean (145), Tommy Herr-Smith (152), Hank Weishaupt (160), Greg Stultz (171), Rob Pasalich (189), Nathan Disney (215) and Brian Walden (275). Also pictured are head coach Dan Mikesell (far right) and assistant coaches Brent Potter (far left) and Chris Walker.
Bottom photo: Chris Dean (top) won a Western Indiana Conference championship at 145 pounds for Northview on Saturday.
Northview's wrestlers just seem to compete at their highest level when it matters most, which, on Saturday, left them in a familiar situation.
Western Indiana Conference champions.
The Knights won four weight classes and got superb efforts from some of their lower seeded grapplers to win their third consecutive championship by outscoring second place Edgewood 239.5 to 216.5.
Coming into the match Northview had two number one seeds in the tourney and both of those wrestlers fulfilled their role by taking a championship.
Beau Pingleton was the top dog at 119 pounds before the tourney and left as the champion in dominating fashion.
Pingleton opened the WIC by pinning Owen Valley's Rusty Bandy in 3:36 and then followed that up with major points with a 16-5 major decision over Wade Bohannon of the host Wildcats and a 16-1 tech fall in the title bout against Edgewood's Matt Hasty.
Northview senior, Chris Dean showed few ill effects from earlier injuries this year by winning both his matches as the top seed and winning a WIC title at 145 pounds. He got a first round forfeit to get rolling for the day and then followed that with a pin in 1:03 and capped the day by drilling Edgewood's Jake Ferguson by a 22-7 count.
Freshman competitor Chris Craft has had more highs than lows this year, but can certainly count Saturday as one of the gold star efforts of the season.
Craft came in as the second seed at 125 pounds with Sullivan's Shane McNeely boasting the pre-meet top spot on the strength of defeating Craft 9-7 in overtime at the Sullivan Winter Duals on January 14. So all eyes were on the rematch on Saturday after Craft got revenge for an earlier loss to Edgewood's Steven Spice. The Mustang competitor had beaten Craft 10-8 in a down-to-the-wire thriller earlier in the season. But Craft handled Spicer 9-3 in the semi to advance to the championship bout against McNeely for all the marbles.
Craft did not disappoint the Northview contingent by earning a 5-3 overtime decision for the championship and a 27-5 mark this year.
Rob Pasalich had a few nerves before his conference tourney opener against South Vermillion's Michael Bennett.
The 189-pounder got to compete for the first time with his father in the stands, driving from Great Lakes, IL, from the Naval Base in the area. Pasalich certainly put on a heck of a show for his father and stepmother, plowing through Bennett via fall at the 4:48 mark and then handling his semifinal opponent by fall at 2:13. In the title bout, Pasalich capped a big day by earning a 7-3 decision over Josh Bedwell of Sullivan to improve to 22-12 this year.
While some of the top-seeded wrestlers came through for the Knights, the biggest points might have came from some of the lower seeded grapplers.
Hank Weishaupt was unseeded at 160 pounds coming into the tourney and got off to a tough start with a 5-4 opening loss to Jacob Leek of West Vigo. Coming out of the bottom bracket, Weishaupt then beat third-seeded Steven Anderson of Edgewood 6-3 and capped his comeback with a 6-4 victory over Leek in the third place match.
Nathan Disney also picked up some valuable team points for the Knights, coming in unseeded at 215, Disney got two victories to place fourth for Northview.
Tommy Herr-Smith was seeded third for the Knights in the 152 pound class and won his semifinal match by fall at the 1:03 mark against West Vigo's Dirk Keller before falling short of defending champion Casey Bybee of Owen Valley in the title match. Herr-Smith took second for Northview and is 16-13 this year.
Northview's Brian Walden (275) and Zach Stultz (135) were each number four seeds in the tourney, but showed their mettle by battling through for runnerup spots and important team points.
Stultz won his opener via fall in and followed with a 9-4 decision in the semis. Chase Snodgrass of Owen Valley would down Stultz in the championship bout.
Senior 171-pounder, Greg Stultz won his first two matches, but still couldn't solve Owen Valley's Michael Moore who won his second match against Stultz, this one a 2-1 score. Stultz was the runner-up on the day and owns a 29-3 mark for the year.
For Walden (275), the day began with an 11-8 win and a pin in 1:07 gave the Northview senior a finals berth. Walden would come up short against the top-seeded Ault of Brown County.
Brandon Hathaway (140) and Josh Longo (112) each were third place finishers for Northview.
Longo went 3-1 on the day, claiming a 15-0 win and a 9-2 win over Michael Silva in the third place bout to improve to 12-5. Hathaway meanwhile would drop a quarterfinal match, but came back with a 16-6 victory and a pin of West Vigo's Andy Jackson in the third place match to improve to 21-14 overall.
Brian Griffin was 2-2 on the day, an overtime opener and taking an 11-1 win to take fourth in the tourney.
Unseeded Nick Hensler of the Knights got revenge against Roy Adams of Sullivan, who beat Hensler 13-4 last week, by winning 7-6 to take sixth place for Northview.
For the day, the Knights had eight wrestlers earn first or second place team points and Northview got points from each weight class on Saturday.
Head Coach Dan Mikesell will lead his squad into sectional competition this Saturday at home at Northview High School.
Northview was third last season as a team with the top two teams advancing to regional competition. Sectional action begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday.